Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

Anti-Smoking Restrictions In Japan

Smokers face more and more anti-smoking restrictions in Japan

The Earth Times – July 4, 2008

Another smokers’ paradise in Asia is disappearing as Japanese smokers face ever more restrictions in the nation’s effort to join the global anti-smoking campaign. Japan used to be a smokers’ haven with very few laws and restrictions. Commuters lit up on station platforms morning, noon and night. People smoked while strolling around and at work.

Cigarettes are available in vending machines and convenience stores on every street corner.

But since the United States spearheaded the global anti-smoking campaign, the former smoker’s paradise has become uncomfortable for the 43.3 per cent of Japanese men and 12 per cent of women who smoke.

First, the price of cigarettes went up to an average 3 dollars per pack, which is still cheap compared to the prices in other parts of the world.

Train stations limited hours of smoking to non-commuting hours because platforms were becoming too crowded and non-smokers feared they might suffocate on the open platforms.

Then Tokyo districts began banning smoking outdoors. No-smoking signs began appearing on the streets of Tokyo, and police roamed the suburbs handing out tickets to the ordinance violators.

Many cities across Japan have since adopted the non-smoking ordinance. A fine of up to 20,000 yen (186 dollars) applies in most places.

Smokers can now only light up in closed booths, set up by the city council on the streets and near train stations.

Restaurants and bars in Japan still allow people to smoke. But they have begun designating sections of their premises as smoking areas in a bid to join the global health movement.

Legal gambling establishments or Pachinko parlors, which were hitherto famous for a smoker-friendly atmosphere, have also jumped onto the “clean environment” bandwagon.

Their policy is “smoke-free, noise-free” pinball.

The ultimate blow to smokers takes effect throughout Japan in early July when the Tobacco Institute of Japan introduces an identification card called Taspo to buy cigarettes from vending machines.

The card must have photo identification. Those of a legal age to smoke, 20 and over, will soon receive the rechargeable cards.

It may be easier and more convenient for smokers to just flash the Taspo card at a machine, but many have felt burdened by the idea of filling out an application form together with photo ID.

Cigarettes are still available at individual tobacco stores and 24-hour convenience stores in Japan, which do not require ID. Some experts wonder what Taspo can accomplish in this environment.

Japan Franchise Association in May reported a 15.9-per-cent increase in non-food sales, which include sales of tobacco, compared to a year before.

The association said the Taspo requirement helped boost tobacco sales at franchise convenience stores as some provinces began setting up Taspo-only vending machines in May.

Nonetheless, as the smoker’s paradise slowly disappears amid all the restrictions, the nation’s smokers are gagging for some air, space and freedom to light up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>